2012-2013 Science Planning Summaries
U.S. Antarctic Program - Science Support Section United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
International cryospheric exploration through collaborative aerogeophysical profiling/Operation Ice Bridge (OIB)

Program Manager:
Dr. Alexandra Isern


ASC POC/Implementer:
Leslie Blank / Brian Johnson

Dr. Donald Blankenship (Principal Investigator)

University of Texas Austin
Institute for Geophysics
Austin, Texas

Supporting Stations:  McMurdo Station
Research Locations:  Williams Field / Dumont d'Urville / Terra Nova Bay / Casey and Davis Stations

Project Description:
Data on changes in ice sheet surface elevation is a critical component of an extended time series dataset which will help resolve questions about the social impact of global warming. The collection of this data has been interrupted with the 2009 failure of the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) and the replacement satellite will not be ready for launch until 2015. In the interim, NASA has initiated Operation Ice Bridge (OIB) to collect surface elevation data in critical regions using NASA's DC-8 long-range aircraft. Departing from the tip of South America (Punta Arenas, Chile), the DC-8’s range is limited to coastal regions of West Antarctica. Using McMurdo-based logistics and resources this project will collect collect up to seven hours (covering 2,000 kilometers) of high resolution, multi-instrumented data per flight in the East Antarctica interior. This aerial capability eliminates the need for deep field support, greatly reducing both transit costs and logistical burdens.

Field Season Overview:
Operating under NSF contract, Kenn-Borek Air’s Basler BT-67, (call sign C-GJKB) will make 25 aerogeophysical survey flights from McMurdo, Dumond d’Urville (France) and Casey and Davis Stations (Australia). C-GJKB will be outfitted with the following active emitters: VHF ice penetrating radar, HF ice penetrating radar, and a scanning lidar. McMurdo Station will provide standard fixed wing operations support such as fuel, parking and tiedowns, electrical power, weather forcasting, flight following, and integration into the daily flight schedule. Logistics at other stations will be coordinated directly between NASA and those national programs.

Deploying Team Members:

  • Donald Blankenship (PI)
  • Gonzalo Echeverry
  • Jamin Greenbaum
  • Chad Greene
  • Cyril Grima
  • Gail Gutowski
  • Anatoly Mironov
  • Gregory Ng
  • Duncan Young (Team Leader)

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Curator: Esther L. Hill PhD, Antarctic Support Contract   |   NSF Official: Alexandra Isern, Office of Polar Programs